The Abundance Factor

Little tweaks can make big impacts & I see evidence of this in lots of ways.  For example, I have a friend who regularly reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough.  She uses everyday examples of how she’s thankful & the impact this attitude makes on her thinking, conversations & decisions.  And she doesn’t just do this at Thanksgiving!

The same can also be true for a little tweak with treats we enjoy!  During this holiday season, I’m doing a #hungerstrike campaign with Saving Moses, asking everyone to forego one treat / indulgence & send that money to Saving Moses to help us feed a malnourished baby. A candy bar in America, or a pumpkin spice latte, or the extra pair of shoes that we forego, could make the difference between life and death for a baby in our malnourishment clinics.

Let’s remember that abundance can be a direct result of gratitude!

Managing Hiccups

Hiccups aren’t pleasant. Some ways people deal w hiccups include: a spoonful of sugar under the tongue, eating a dab of peanut butter, drinking water upside down, startling someone, etc. 

And what about the unexpected hiccups in one’s schedule or mishaps with various plans?  What are some ways we can cope with the unexpected?  Here are some ideas:

  • Take a deep breath & remember that nothing catches God by surprise
  • Recognize the surprises have an emotional toll & this can be part of the challenge to navigate
  • Look for the upside – finding some good can make surprises more palatable
  • Do healthy – drink water, get rest, make good eating decisions, take a walk / exercise
  • Step into it & make the best with what you’ve got, frequently asking for God’s help

Happy Monday!

Enjoying People

Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction. 

Were some people cranky?  Yes

Were some people strange? Yes

Were some people brilliant? Definitely 

Were some people hurting? Absolutely 

Were some people broken? Everyone 

And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!

Against the Grain

“We aren’t doing that!”  This morning, I read in Exodus about the Egyptian midwives who didn’t follow Pharoah’s command to kill all baby boys born to Hebrew moms.  They ran against the grain & took a risk when they didn’t comply.  Because they didn’t obey Pharaoh with his command, God blessed these midwives greatly!

I find the behaviors of these midwives to be very interesting:  they aligned themselves with a nation to whom they didn’t belong, they protected the most vulnerable, they were advocates of life and they found a “convenient reason” to explain their non-compliance to Pharaoh.

Sometimes we need to run against the grain of what’s popular around us to live as advocates & examples of genuine love!  🙂

When There’s Opposition

“You can’t do that!”  “That’s ridiculous & never been done before.”  “We aren’t interested in that kind of thing here.”  “NO!!!”

I’m in Bangledesh sitting with our Saving Moses nightcare team, comprised of nannies, administrative support, guards & assistants. This team looks after babies & toddlers every night while their moms work in the adjacent brothel. When I came to this area last year to present my idea for nightcare, I already had many years experience where people told me all the things I listed at the beginning of this blog & even more. Thankfully, the people in Bangledesh weren’t opposed to my idea, although definitely surprised. And today, I’m abundantly fulfilled to sit with this wonderful team – grateful for each of them & believing in nightcare!

So when you face opposition, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:

  • See the goal – this helps to stay focused 
  • Take a step toward the goal, no matter how small
  • Be creative – there’s more than one way to achieve a goal
  • Failure is learning rather than defeat
  • Encourage someone else – it helps to keep your heart joyful

Daily Living

I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America. 

As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:

  • Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
  • Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
  • Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights

At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂

Election Hangover

In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences. 

  • Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
  • Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
  • Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.

Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!

In Your Skin

You are magnificent when you are you!!  When you try to blend, conform or be someone else, not so much.  I say this because I’ve brought my daughter for a college visit & I remember my insecurities in college & being uncomfortable in my skin.  I’ve always been a little quirky & when I’m settled with myself, that’s fun.  When I’m unsettled with myself, the quirky and fun side of me gets quiet and even disappears.

All of us have insecurities and internal struggles.  At the same time, let’s rest in the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of our Heavenly Father.  We are valuable, important and have divine purposes and plans.  Indeed, in Ephesians 2:10, it says that God has already laid out good works for us to walk in and no one can do these good works, except you because they are divinely appointed for you, living in your skin and being wonderful YOU!!!

Celebrate Genuine Love!

Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love!  I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images.  When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful.  In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!

Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:

  • Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
  • Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
  • Smile & watch for gratitude opportunities – clean air, warm sun, nice coffee / tea, clean water, beautiful trees & HEAPS more!!

Happy Genuine Love day to you!!

Proximity Alert

It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter.  In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer.  So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is.  Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.

Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son.  When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life.  We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life.  Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!

Thats Crap!!

Philippians 3:8 (The Message):  “everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.”

There are lots of things that we think are important: schedules, money, education, family, jobs, achievement, sports, entertainment, travel, etc. 

No doubt that these things are important, along w stuff I haven’t listed. But let’s be very clear about what is most important in our lives based on Phil 3:8. Paul said in these verses that nothing in is life was more important than knowing Jesus – not his education, his heritage nor his upbringing. Paul considered everything as literal “crap” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus.  Let’s be like Paul & make knowing Jesus the most important focus & goal that steers our daily living!

Trusting God

How can I get this done? Where will I get the time for that?  How should I use this money or talent that I have?  Have you asked God these questions?  Often, such questions are anchored in the requirement to trust God

And sometimes trusting God can be both challenging & frustrating!  I’m in Cambodia for a super quick trip.  This morning I was trying to figure out all of the moving parts for today, since my flight leaves tonight.  I couldn’t make everything I needed to accomplish today, fit into a schedule. So I decided to trust God when I left the hotel this morning & I’m pleasantly surprised at how well God has put together this day!!

Trusting God can be a daily & even an hourly discipline, based on Proverbs 22:19.  And this trust is an essential ingredient to a closer walk with God!

Messing Up

I’ve definitely had my share of flops, failures and screwups!  When I was younger, I’d get massively embarrassed & it would take me awhile to recover.  Now that I’m “older”, it’s easier to laugh at myself & put mistakes in the “practice” column ,)

I’m in the middle of a youtube series about people in the Bible who messed up.  Feel free to watch this really short video about a Bible character & I’m inviting you to subscribe to my youtube channel as well!  Happy viewing!

Read the Ingredients

I discovered a power bar that I really like, for the simple reason that I can read & understand the ingredients.  There are no complicated words, chemical compounds, multi-syllable mysteries nor contrived nutritional concotions.  These power bars are really straightforward:  egg whites, almonds, dates and peanut butter (or something to that affect).  It’s nice to recognize the ingredients on a package instead of trying to decipher words & find the commas ,)

In the same way, we would be wise to consider what’s inside of each of us:  what we think about and allow into our hearts affects what we do & say.  When we ruminate on being selfish, allowing judgment & unforgiveness to reside in our thoughts / heart, when we let bitterness & resentment to run amuck in our emotions, let’s be abundantly clear that such hurtful ingredients will taint our external behaviors / interactions.  Maybe this is why it’s so important that we do what Paul says in Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Bring Out the Best!

I was in a parking lot today and watched the drivers from two cars get in a honking battle.  They concluded their exchanges with middle fingers, yelling and mean looks.  I would suspect that perhaps these drivers have different sides to their personalities, such that they don’t go through their lives everyday with expletives, middle fingers and combative behaviors.

Just because someone is hostile or cranky with us doesn’t mean that we have to repay the same acrimony.  Indeed, such moments are opportunities to do a quick heart check on ourselves and choose better.  Furthermore, we can go the extra mile & look for constructive ways to bring out the best in people.  Here are some suggestions for your consideration:

  • encouragement, gratitude and polite words make a comfortable runway for others to be gracious
  • a soft answer turns away wrath – Prov 15;1
  • forgiveness is a decision to reflect God’s DNA in us, since we are liberally forgiven even more than we realize
  • what a person “deserves” is best left in God’s hands, since we are commanded by Jesus not to judge in Matt 7:1

Let’s endeavor to bring out the best throughout our daily exchanges!

What’s Enough?

I go through seasons in my life where everything seems manageable.  This means that I have a balance with my workload, time, responsibilities, family stuff, travel, etc.  And then I go through seasons that seem very unbalanced:  too much work, not enough time, overwhelming responsibilities, unresolved family challenges and maybe a host of other hotspots.  So in these seasons, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m drowning and I can’t manage everything – there’s not enough of me to adequately match everything that’s being demanded or required.

In these seasons, it helps me to focus on what’s immediately in front of me and taking one day at a time.  Indeed, I don’t have the resources, wisdom, energy or wherewithall to get very far into the future and it can overwhelm  me when I try.  Maybe this is why God did the manna thing for Israel, giving adequate supply of bread for each day.  This forced the Israelites to trust God on a daily basis and this is a helpful mindset that we can also choose for today.  Let’s thank God for giving us daily provisions, adequate for each day 🙂

Broken Stuff

My phone is broken so it’s difficult to type the letters “c” & “r”.  So whenever I text or post something with these letters, it can be a spelling disaster & I look like I’m illiterate. And it’s abundantly frustrating!!  I’ve done the updates & tried to troubleshoot & fix this but to no avail. I think something is broken inside my phone. 

And when stuff is broken inside, it’s obvious on the outside. This also holds true for our human existence. When people act whacky, let’s be aware that this often reflects something broken on the inside. Compassion, truth, genuine love & grace are helpful salve to heal & redeem what’s broken inside others as well as ourselves 🙂

Where Are You Looking?

When you’re driving and you look over your shoulder to check your blind spot, has your car ever veered to the side?  When I took driver’s ed, the instructor taught us that we need to be careful about keeping the car centered at the same time we would check our blind spot.  “Your car will often follow where you look.”

I’ve followed this advice mulitple times and reflected on the times when I let myself get distracted from a goal or destination with the subsequent collision or loss of direction.  So it always helps me to remember Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfector of our faith!”  Jesus is our goal, so let’s keep focusing on Him throughout each day!

Shock Value

There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking.  It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.

And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut.  For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day.  Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:

  • He ate with sinners.
  • He associated with tax collectors.
  • He kept company with the irresuptable.

All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens.  And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love.  Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂

Have a happy weekend!